I truly don’t remember the last time I went as hard as I did at this year’s HARD Summer (pun intended).
Just a few days before the California festival kicked off at the massive Glen Helen Amphitheater, Gary Richards announced his departure from Live Nation. Richards, who DJs as Destructo and hosts various events, including HARD Summer and HOLY SHIP!, shockingly revealed that he will not be attending or curating the next HOLY SHIP! cruise event. Since the 10th anniversary of HARD Summer was around the corner and its future was uncertain, I was more than happy that I had a ticket to what was set to be Destructo’s last HARD event.
After finally landing in California (thanks, United), I made my way to my hotel because I am a diva who doesn’t like camping, and spent my pre-HARD day laying by the pool and attempting to rid myself of my East Coast color, or lack thereof. My group and I attempted to venture out in Ontario, California and check out the local bar scene, but let’s just say it was definitely not what we expected. We were ready for HARD Summer.
I woke up earlier than I have ever woken up for a music festival, thanks to time differences and pure excitement for the day ahead. After first heading into the festival, I split with my group in order to catch Mad Zach, who opened up the Purple Stage on the right foot with his weird and wonky tunes, leaving the crowd in ultimate bass heaven. After catching up with him backstage (interview coming soon), I reunited with my group for Drezo, who absolutely crushed the HARD/Pardon My French stage with his dark and industrial house tunes. Making the positive energy continue was SAYMYNAME, who admittedly isn’t my cup of tea, but gave the Green Stage all he got and made a complete madhouse out of his one-hour time slot. We were three for three.
Some of my favorite acts of the day were Chris Lorenzo and Chris Lake, who turned the Pink Stage, curated by Night Bass and Hyper House, into the ultimate party. HARD Summer did an amazing job of providing stages for just about every type of music fan, from techno, to hip-hop, to house and everywhere in between.
Finally, and I mean finally, it was time for YehMe2, who was debuting his first performance as a solo act following his exit from Flosstradamus. For one, I have never seen a crowd lose their mind to every single track that a DJ drops, but Josh Young made it happen. It was clear that the ‘new’ trap artist prepared scrupulously for his performance, and it paid off big time. He brought out his wife for his closing song, which happened to be “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, and I think just about everyone’s jaw was on the floor by that point. Way to slay, YehMe2.
French power-duo Justice put on a great show and played everything from classic electro house to hardstyle. Although I much prefer their live sets, it was still an incredible hour filled with amazing music and eye-catching visuals. I must also mention the fact that Justice, along with many other artists, managed to walk around the festival unnoticed. Hello, everyone?! Anyways, we left the festivalgrounds early in order to catch the shuttle back to the designated and well-organized Uber lot. Surprisingly, we made it back to our hotel in an impressively short amount of time, which was an amazing feeling after a long day.
Now, for day two. There were some delays getting into the festival on Sunday, which was assumably due to a bigger crowd, but we made it in the knick of time for HARDFather Destructo’s set. He brought out some very special guests, including Yo Gotti and dance music legend Giorgio Moroder. For what could have been his last-ever set at HARD Summer, it was quite an emotional hour.
Destructo’s #SHIPFAM (HOLY SHIP! devotees) succeeded in purchasing a blimp to fly around during his set with a banner reading #NOGARYNOSHIP, as a major f*ck you to Live Nation. After he came out onto the grounds for a generously long meet-and-greet the day prior, it became clear that Gary Richards/Destructo is truly a legendary and unbelievably well-respected member of the dance music community.
Now, I somehow fell and slipped into staying at the HARD Stage for the remainder of the night following Destructo’s performance. Oops! Baauer put on one of the most unique sets of the weekend, while What So Not put on a slightly more mellow set in comparison to what we were all waiting for, Dog Blood.
After performing at Webster Hall the previous night for the venue’s final club night, Skrillex and Boys Noize hit HARD Summer for their only other performance of the year. I can honestly say that it was one of the best performances I have ever seen. They played Skrillex and Boys Noize classics, (potentially) some new IDs, and some crazy trap, house, and dubstep tracks. The crowd went absolutely mental. (Relive their full set here.)
We finished up with Kill The Noise, who played one of the hardest-hitting sets of the weekend, and made our way to the shuttles. It took much longer to get back to the hotel after Sunday, but I’m pretty sure that everyone was busy talking about Dog Blood’s set the entire time anyways.
By this point, I was completely shot. At music festivals, I usually go hard at some performances and chill out at others, depending on who everyone in my group wants to see, but I don’t think that I ever stopped moving during the entire HARD weekend. Almost every single artist I saw killed their performance, and there was so much energy in the air that it was hard to slow down.
Destructo and the HARD Summer team made it a festival to remember for years to come. I don’t know what he has up his sleeve following his split from Live Nation, but whatever it is, you bet your ass I will be there.
HARD Summer 2017: 10/10
Top 3 Sets of the Weekend:
3. Chris Lorenzo
1. Dog Blood